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What Is The Prepper Movement?

Updated on February 29, 2020
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What Is The Preppers Movement?

The prepper movement is not a totally new phenomenon. Whether justified or not, there has always been a fringe survivalist element in society that holds the dimmest view of the future and took actions to prepare for the potential collapse of civilization, which they assumed was imminent. What is new about the prepper movement is how their survivalist message is resonating with many mainstream and ordinary people who in past eras would be oblivious to calls to prepare for societal breakdown. Survivalists are no longer just people in hunting gear who spend their weekends playing war games in the woods. Survivalism has gone somewhat mainstream and now includes a wide variety of people from all walks of life who are colloquially known as “preppers” (people who are preparing for a major crisis and/or the collapse of civilization).

What is Driving The Growing Preppers Movement?

It is hard to pinpoint exactly what is driving the preppers movement that appears to have gained momentum during 2012. Perhaps the widely discussed Mayan December 21, 2012 end of the world prophecy has made people consider if they are prepared for such a cataclysmic event? Perhaps the 2008 and 2009 financial crisis that in some ways has lingered into 2012, as both European governments and the United States government grapple with fiscal and debt issues, has caused people to feel uneasy about the economic future? Perhaps the constant drone of Iran reportedly working on attaining nuclear weapons has revived people’s dormant fears of a nuclear annihilation? Perhaps the awe inspiring power that hurricanes Katrina and Sandy unleashed has made people realize how inept government and collective society can be in protecting against and responding to disasters? Or, perhaps the explanation is as simple as the fact that the preppers movement has been made widely known by a popular television program called Doomsday Preppers that started airing in early 2012 on the National Geographic Network? Whatever the reason(s), 2012 appears to be the year in which preppers and the preppers movement moved out of the shadows and entered the mainstream of societal consciousness.

How Typical Preppers Prepare For Disaster and Societal Breakdown

The term “preppers” covers a wide variety of people that are preparing for disasters and societal breakdown. Neither preppers nor traditional survivalists (the ones that are hunkered down in remote bunkers and already fending for themselves) like to associate the preppers movement with survivalism. Some call it “survivalism-lite”, since many preppers do not go to the extremes that many survivalists have, and generally carry on relatively ordinary lives when they are not preparing for life after societal breakdown.

Preppers are for the most partordinary people (soccer moms, people working 40 hours a week, etc.) who are acting out of concerns for the safety of themselves and their families, and want to be prepared for future disasters, including the possible total breakdown of social order. The preppers movement is often group oriented. Instead of just preparing independently for disasters and possible societal breakdown, many preppers have realized that there is safety and strength in numbers, and have actively recruited their friends and neighbors to join their local preppers network to prepare for the worst with them.

Preppers generally prepare for future disasters and societal breakdown by putting together a “bug out bag”, which is a bag that contains essential items that they believe they will need to initially survive after a disaster and possible ensuing societal breakdown. A bug out bag is designed to be easily grabbed and loaded into a vehicle, if preppers feel it is time to leave their home quickly and move to a pre-determined bug out location, which typically is a rural location that they believe will be relatively safe until order is restored. Preppers also learn: how to take care of medical emergencies themselves, store essential items, store protective gear, how to use firearms and methods of self defense, alternative ways of producing energy, and how to grow their own food and find alternative sources of nutrition in the wilderness.

Since bug out time may never come and a decision may be made to stay put and ride out a disaster and social disorder within their home, preppers also prepare to defend their home and neighborhood from potential looters and desperate mobs. This includes taking actions to secure a home by adding security measures, such as a safe room and window and door guards, and learning how to use firearms and self-defense strategies to keep looters and desperate mobs out of their homes and neighborhood.

Are Preppers Just Paranoid Or Are Their Actions Justified?

The decision about whether to join the preppers movement, either in practice or in spirit, or to just ignore it comes down to whether one feels the preppers are just being paranoid or if their actions are justified by real threats of disaster or catastrophe. Nobody knows for sure what is going to happen in the future and whether society will be able to handle future disasters, either natural or man-made, without dissolving into chaos. So, therefore learning at least some basic survival skills and taking reasonable measures to prepare for the unknown is a good idea for every able bodied person. However, letting preparing for disaster and social chaos consume one’s life and one’s life savings is another matter.

The reality is that dire predictions have been around since the dawn of civilization, and yet civilization is still here. The reality is also that one is far more likely to die from an every day event, such as a car accident or heart attack, than a catastrophic society ending event. So, legitimate questions can be raised about whether preppers’ money and time would be better spent on buying the safest car possible, learning how to drive more safely, and eating a healthy diet, if they are truly concerned with self preservation. Legitimate questions can also be raised about whether many preppers are just wasting their time by not taking a holistic approach to prepping. For example, an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack could render many electronic devices useless (see: An Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack is a Major Security Concern for the Developed World). All the prepping in the world may prove useless if electronic devices that preppers are relying on to work are not protected properly from an EMP attack and are rendered inoperable in post-EMP apocalyptic world.

Whatever your opinion is of preppers and the preppers movement, it appears that they are here to stay and you will be hearing about them more in coming years. There certainly is no shortage of cataclysmic events to worry about, with weapons of mass destruction spreading, the potential for a pandemic viral outbreak always present and growing, and global warming apparently producing more intense storms, many more people may be drawn to the preppers movement out of fear that governments cannot be relied upon to protect their or their family’s safety and preparedness actions need to be taken.

Preppers Movement Poll

What Do You Think Of The Preppers Movement?

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A Brief History of Survivalism

Unboxing $20,000 Prepper Inventory

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 John Coviello


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